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March 20, 2013

Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
June 12, 2013 – October 27, 2013

Seattle – One Moroccan artist teaches a village of women to read. An embroiderer from India takes out her first loan. A Hutu woman from war-torn Rwanda works with a Tutsi woman to make "peace" baskets.

Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities, a traveling exhibit coming to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, provides an intimate view of the work of ten women-run artisan cooperatives from across the world. The exhibit features the artists’ personal stories and stunning examples of the cooperatives' handmade traditional arts. The objects these women create hold power. Each object represents the power of women working together to transform their lives—and the lives of their families, their children, and their communities.

Each co-op has a different motivation: preserving a weaving tradition, sustaining the environment, providing a safe haven from violence. Art binds them, but the market drives them. Cooperatives help women survive, and thrive. They work collaboratively to create products, develop distribution networks, and decide how to distribute or invest revenues. In doing so, they not only take control of their own lives but ensure a better future for their children and their communities.

Empowering Women is about success stories. It is about incredible perseverance. These women are overcoming significant challenges with integrity, grace, and creativity,” Dr. Julie K. Stein, Burke Museum executive director, said. “The artisan-made objects are certainly beautiful, but the stories behind them are even more beautiful. They are truly inspiring.”

The Burke Museum will add to the traveling exhibit with its own “Empowering Objects” display, where visitors can discover how local philanthropists, local co-ops, and local organizations are supporting artisans and transforming communities, in the Pacific Northwest and across the globe. These Empowering Objects will be available for purchase, with the proceeds going to support grassroots cooperatives.

Meet artists featured in the exhibit at the Burke’s Empowering Women Artisan Market, July 20-21, from 10 am – 3 pm. Watch as members of the women-run artist cooperatives from Laos, Rwanda, Morocco, and Bolivia demonstrate their craft. (Pieces available for purchase)

Empowering Women showcases the transformative power of women working together to provide for their families, educate their children, steward their environment, promote equality, and give back to their communities. Join the Burke to discover how the intersection of art, commerce, and culture is changing lives across the globe—and in our own backyard.

Photo: Textile artisan Kakuben Jivan Ranmal at home in her village, India, 2010. Photograph courtesy of SEWA.

High resolution images available, contact burkepr@uw.edu.

Empowering Women is a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with guest curator Dr. Suzanne Seriff. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is hosting the exhibit with support from: 4Culture, Microsoft, Quest for Truth Foundation, Kym Aughtry, Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, Marella Fund, Tulalip Tribes, and U.S. Bancorp Foundation.

(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274

Textile artisan Kakuben Jivan Ranmal at home in her village, India, 2010.
Photograph courtesy of SEWA.